The Material Convoy After Age 50

TitleThe Material Convoy After Age 50
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsEkerdt, DJ, Baker, LA
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
KeywordsConsumption and Savings, Event History/Life Cycle, Health Conditions and Status, Housing, Other

Objectives. Possessions constitute a dynamic material convoy that accumulates across adulthood to furnish role enactments and the development of the self. Following a familiar life course arc, older people should hypothetically release the possessions that equipped the daily lives that they no longer have.Method. We use new survey data on possession divestment from the 2010 Health and Retirement Study to assess activity on behalf of the material convoy after age 50.Results. After age 50, people are progressively less likely to divest themselves of belongings. After age 70, about 30 of persons say that they have done nothing in the past year to clean out, give away, or donate things, and over 80 have sold nothing. We tested whether divestments diminish with age because they do not seem necessary or because of health limitations, but the age pattern is robust, suggesting retention of the material convoy in later life.Discussion. Further research on this age pattern might consider housing, the construction of the self, and social networks as explanations for retention. Inertia toward the material convoy maintains the availability and comfort of things, but it may also lead to a predicament wherein the collection becomes a worry for self and others.

Endnote Keywords

Consumption/Environment/Housing/Life course/Possessions/Hoarding

Endnote ID


Citation Key7977